In the dead of winter, Barcelona is a bright and beautiful metropolis, spiked with palm trees and speckled with a colorful bohemian youth. Life moves a bit slower and meals are a bit later, sometimes lasting for hours, and the night begins after midnight and not a minute before.
Each day, promptly at two in the afternoon, the people of Barcelona abandon their work and head to lunch. Storefronts close their gates for two solid hours and the city settles down to eat. The bars are lined with tapas, each stabbed with a toothpick. At the end of each meal, the bartender asks to count the bare toothpicks and charges accordingly. (Never more than two euros a piece.) Salt cod fritters, roasted red peppers stuffed with tuna, Spanish tortilla, fried olives draped with anchovies, thinly sliced jamon on fresh bread and soft white cheese drizzled with olive oil are piled high in a race to be consumed. Tap beer is light and cold, fresh tasting and slightly acidic (perfect for washing down the salty food and red wine from the region) at about a euro a glass. Pork legs hang from walls and ceilings, trophies from Catalonia’s most prized animal: the pig. Once the crowd is good and full, many head home for a little snooze, before going back to work. As they say in Spain, never rush digestion.
As I wind through the cobblestone streets of the old city I ask myself, why does this feel so damn good? A life worth living should revolve around food, napping and sunshine, no? My skin feels warm and my belly is nice and taut. I could die here.
Spanish Tortilla Serves 2
3 medium white potatoes
1 small yellow onion, peeled
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 cups olive oil, plus one teaspoon
In a small saucepan, warm the olive oil on medium low heat. Slice the onion in half and then in quarters. Then slice the quarters thinly. Cut the potatoes in half and then lay them flat and slice them thinly as well. Place the onions and the potatoes into the olive oil and cook until tender. You don’t want them to brown. Drain the oil and reserve the onions and potatoes. Beat the eggs well. Add the onions and the potatoes to the egg mixture. Heat a small non-stick frying pan with one teaspoon olive oil over very low heat. Pour the mixture into the pan and cook slowly until ready to flip. Place a like-size plate on top of the tortilla, flip and slide back into the frying pan. Let cook on the other side briefly. Let cool, cut like a pizza and serve.